Gurkhas a big help to the mission in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jan 3, 2008.

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  1. www.canada.com/topics/...50&k=49177

    Gurkhas a big help to the mission in Afghanistan

    Allison Lampert , Montreal Gazette
    Published: Thursday, January 03, 2008

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- They are often referred to as human machines, soldiers with oversized hearts and lungs tucked into smaller than average-sized bodies.

    Yet during a recent Christmas Day volleyball match, one observer on the court described the soldiers of the Royal Gurkha Rifles - in their floppy red hats - as "little Nepalese Santas."

    Soft-spoken and exceedingly polite, the Gurkhas have become a key Canadian ally in Afghanistan, with the Rifles' C company fighting side-by-side during three recent operations in Kandahar province. Since they arrived in September, the Gurkha company has played an essential role in helping Canadian and Afghan soldiers chase insurgents out of Kandahar's volatile Zhari and Panjwaii districts.


    The Gurkhas are a very remarkable organization. They have very good fighters," said Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, commander of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. "We want to keep on working with them as long as we can."
    More on the link
     
  2. Gurkhas are always a big help to any mission.

    It doesn't hurt that the enemy are sh*t scared of them either! :D

    It's good to see our allies think of much of the Gurkhas as we on this side of the pond do.
     
  3. Link down
     
  4. You got another link Skynet?
     
  5. Hope this helps
    Gurkhas a big help to the mission in Afghanistan
    Allison Lampert , Montreal Gazette
    Published: Thursday, January 03, 2008
    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- They are often referred to as human machines, soldiers with oversized hearts and lungs tucked into smaller than average-sized bodies.

    Yet during a recent Christmas Day volleyball match, one observer on the court described the soldiers of the Royal Gurkha Rifles - in their floppy red hats - as "little Nepalese Santas."

    Soft-spoken and exceedingly polite, the Gurkhas have become a key Canadian ally in Afghanistan, with the Rifles' C company fighting side-by-side during three recent operations in Kandahar province. Since they arrived in September, the Gurkha company has played an essential role in helping Canadian and Afghan soldiers chase insurgents out of Kandahar's volatile Zhari and Panjwaii districts.


    A British Army Gurkha and other British forces prepare to patrol an area known as Hamburger Hill in Helmand province, Afghanistan November 6, 2007.
    REUTERS/Steve Lewis

    The Gurkhas are a very remarkable organization. They have very good fighters," said Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, commander of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. "We want to keep on working with them as long as we can."

    Created following a peace treaty in 1816 between Great Britain and Nepal, the Gurkha brigade has since served as part of the British army.

    Selected through rigourous testing in Nepal - Gurkha candidates must climb five kilometres carrying a 70-pound backpack in under 35 minutes - only one of 300 is accepted into the legendary British infantry regiment.

    "We've got good quality blokes," Lt.-Col. Jonny Bourne, commander of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. "A lot of them come from particularly rugged backgrounds."

    Besides working well with the Canadian soldiers, the Gurkhas have been praised for being able to communicate with the Afghan soldiers. Reared on Bollywood films, most Gurkhas speak Hindi, which is very close to Urdu, a Pakistani language spoken by many Afghans.

    But they are far best known for their physical prowess, including being able to carry their own weight in ammunition, gear and British-issued SA-80 assault rifles. This leg strength allows them to jump spectacularly high during their favourite game, volleyball.

    "In Nepal, we don't have the big roads that you have in Canada, so we have to carry everything ourselves," said Lance-Cpl. Shree Krishna Gurung, who grew up in a small town in the hills of Nepal.

    As a child, he had to walk 90 minutes each way to school, carrying his books and lunch. At age nine, Gurung's family moved closer to a school, so he could get a better education - proficiency in English, math and other subjects are now essential to become a Gurkha.

    At Kandahar Airfield, the Gurkhas have gained a quasi-mythical reputation among soldiers. After a recent, high-profile battle to chase the Taliban out of Musa Qala in Helmand province, word spread how insurgents fled at the news that the Gurkhas were coming.

    "One Canadian soldier said to me, 'you guys must have magical, mystical powers,'" recalled 21-year-old rifleman Rajen Limu of C company.

    "I think he was joking."

    Gurung, 24, has heard odd comments from other soldiers about Gurkhas having special powers so they won't get killed in battle.

    "Some of the Canadians were talking like this," he said. "Of course, it isn't true."

    The Gurkhas are also said to mystify the Taliban, who were initially surprised by their presence on the battlefield. With their Asian features, the Gurkhas somewhat resemble Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara population.

    "We heard stories on how (insurgents) said we were too short to be Canadians, or British soldiers, and too fast to be Afghans," Gurung said.

    The Gurkhas wear British uniforms with the emblem of Nepal's traditional khukuri knives on their shoulder. The Rifles have two battalions, one in Brunei in Southeast Asia, and one in the United Kingdom.

    About 500 Gurkhas are based at the Kandahar Airfield, but are regularly moved around to support troops in other provinces, including the Dutch and the U.S. forces. There are another 150 Gurkhas in Helmand province, supporting the British forces.

    In Kandahar, they live a 20-minute hike away at Camp Roberts, named after one of their late commanding officers Maj. Alexis Roberts, who gained fame for being Prince William's platoon commander. Roberts died in October when a roadside bomb detonated in Kandahar.

    During a recent visit to their camp, members of C company were listening to Canadian singer Avril Lavigne, while separating their new ammunition from the spent cartridges. Others were gathered around a large screen television set, watching a cricket match.

    High unemployment in Nepal, coupled with the rich history of the storied infantry group, have generated huge demand among young Nepalese to become Gurkhas.

    "Our forefathers were in the British army, so we followed them," Gurung said. "It's a tradition. In our opinion, being a Gurkha is one of the best jobs."
     
  6. Thanks skynet, keep em coming
     
  7. Seem to be having problems with a few links from the news site which I feed from in Afghanistan. Hope it sorts itself out so I can keep the Afghan thread going. I think this is a lovely piece
     
  8. Cheers Skynet...good bit of reading there! :)